A year ago, we launched 2017 with a theme of creativity and collaboration. We sent our friends cards they could use for coloring, and holiday gifts that made meetings creative and collaborative. We spent the year thinking about how to collaborate better within our team and with clients.
But I have a confession: Collaboration doesn’t come naturally to me. My default is to head to my computer and jot down some notes, or email someone my ideas. I like to “task pass” or “divide and conquer”—you do this, I do that, and we all go home for dinner.
Then, I heard the same proverb three times in the course of a week: at a meeting, on the radio, and at a social gathering:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
This year taught me how true this is, and I am proud of how far we have come—together. We had a million opportunities to learn, time and again, that collaboration is better.
For one example, collaboration was key when we started talking about how to reorganize our project teams. Never in a million years could I alone have come up with our new structure, where teams are built based on project needs and staff interests and skills. Nor would I have been able to think about the change from the perspectives of human resources, finance, supervision, etc. Rather than barreling into ideas we had to walk back later, the team worked creatively over the whole year to successfully launch our new structure.
In our diversity, equity, and inclusion work, different perspectives clarified what we were looking for in hiring an outside consultant. I knew this work was important, but what I learned was that it was important to different people for different reasons! I wanted almost an “audit” of our policies and systems, to make sure we were inclusive. Our team? They wanted to be equipped with knowledge, skills, and strategies for working in complex areas around equity. I’m so glad I learned from them, because now I see many more possibilities for how the work will support us for years to come.
Naturally, our focus on collaboration extends to our work with clients. For one client developing a new strategic plan, we needed to blend a few different approaches. To guide the process, we formed an ad hoc strategic planning committee made up of the organization’s staff and board members. At the same time, several of my colleagues met to brainstorm ideas that blended different methods. Thanks to this collaboration, the organization has a clear, shared direction for its work in the years ahead.
So, collaborate. You will learn something. You will go far. You will be better off. And you will have a lot of fun along the way. Thank you to all we collaborated with in 2017, and see you in 2018!
Leah Goldstein Moses, Founder & CEO